I have a wonderful, patient husband.
Luke started off his Sunday morning by rattling his joints loose, rototilling the vegetable garden in the hot sun for me. Then he waded across the icy cold river to pull a rusty, old swing set frame that the flood waters washed down to our property a couple of years ago off the riverbank. Then he cut holes in the bottoms of four perfectly good buckets. For me. Without entirely understanding or agreeing with what I was planning to do. Now that’s love.
And what is it that I’m planning? I’m growing upside down tomatoes. It’s crazy, I know. Last year I saw this post, which had great results, and which intrigued me greatly. I thought about the upside down tomatoes last summer when my giant, unruly tomatoes resisted every type of stake and cage I tied them to, and fell to the ground over and OVER again. This year these plants will not be falling over. Nope.
The idea is that the tomato plants can grow long and bear heavy fruit, but will never need staking because gravity lets them hang loose and never fall over. Google “upside down tomatoes” and you’ll see millions of gadgets and growing systems for the tomatoes. Mine are simple and copied from Frecklewonder: 5-gallon buckets with holes in the bottoms hanging from a support.
I had planned to force Luke to build me a structure to hold the buckets, but then one day I was thinking out loud and said, “you know what would be perfect to hold my tomato buckets? An old swing set frame”. To which Luke replied, “I know where we can get one”.
Each fall and sometimes spring, we get enough rain to cause the river to swell and flood the banks. This sometimes wipes out trees or moves furniture, and sometimes it brings us presents from upriver, like a string trimmer, a portable toilet, and even a swing set frame. The frame stayed in our section of the river for a while, then one heavy rain washed it further down river where Luke and our neighbor pulled it out of the water and threw it on the opposite side of the bank. There it sat until a good use for it was dreamed up. It’s small, like it only held a swinging bench, and it’s kind of short, but I think it’s perfect.
I bought two varieties of heirloom tomatoes, Tiffen Mennonite and Glacier Red, at the farmers’ market and they are the lucky new dizzy, upside down plants in my experimental upside down garden. I’m also planning to make a grid of twine up the sides of the swing set frame to grow cucumbers and squash. Those I’ll grow right side up. Not as interesting, but hopefully just as successful.